Australia: NSW rain will not dampen stonefruit harvest

Rainy weather in the state of NSW over the weekend has not dampened the spirits of fruit growers preparing for a busy Pick Your Own season ahead. “Most farms in the region with stonefruit will be quite ok,” says Allan Eagle, of Hawkesbury Harvest. “It’s always dependent on how much it wants to rain but as long as it’s not day after day after day growers should be ok. It’s a tough game out there with the weather, and elevation has a lot to do with it too.” The higher up orchards are growing the less protected they may be from severe storms, Mr Eagle adds.
 
The NSW stonefruit harvest is well underway, with a raft of Pick Your Own farms opening their gate this coming weekend, including Cedar Creek and Canoelands Orchards. “We’ve got about 8,000 nectarine trees and 5,000 plum trees and 500 peach trees, and it looks like it’s going to be a fantastic season,” says Jamie Christie of Canoelands. “We were already busy last week, and the rain’s been good we just don’t want too much to come our way. So far fruit size is average and quality is really good too.”
 
Prices start to increase now as the season is just started, but will go down as fruit for the wholesale market becomes available from other states, Ms Christie said.
 
Pick Your Own proves popular
The Pick Your Own farms in NSW have become so popular that visitors can pick the fruit so fast they have to close before the end of the season because there’s nothing left. There will always be fruit going to market stalls and retailers too though, according to Lynelle Silm of Cedar Creek Orchard. “It depends if the fruit is ripening and maturing a little ahead of time or not. It’s likely we’ll do a couple of Pick Your Own days in January too,” she says. “Right now our first varieties are a little bit smaller, but the quality and quantity is excellent.”
 
The total number of peach and nectarine trees at Cedar Creek is approximately 17,000, with the peaches being all the sweeter white variety. “Peaches and nectarines have been in the wholesale market for the last month in the north (Queensland), and when I start Swan Hill in Victoria is also producing,” says Mark Silm. “We’ll sell for about $4-$6 per kilo to visitors, and expect to be busy. What we set up for was a large quantity of one variety of stonefruit, like white peaches, but because of the popularity of Pick Your Own now we’re going to plant a similar number of trees again but with more varieties for people to choose from.”
 
Visitors will get a full orchard experience when they come for fruitpicking, Mr Silm says, including a tractor ride to the trees, the choice of the best and ripest fruit available.

For more information

Visit the Hawkesbury Harvest website to find out more about seasonal fruit for the area and Pick Your Own Farms, including both Canoelands and Cedar Creek Orchards, where bookings can be made to pick from November 7: www.hawkesburyharvest.com.au 



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